Tuesday, December 27, 2022

HPBA and the River

The recent flooding along the riverfront has called to mind past episodes of flooding at the Hudson Power Boat Association.

The building that is the HPBA clubhouse is right on the river, so it is very vulnerable to flooding. It has been there for a very long time, having started its life as the ticket office and waiting room for the Hudson River Day Line, as well as for the Hudson-Athens ferry, which used the adjacent slip.

Since I published the pictures taken by Howard Gibson yesterday, documenting the flooding that the HPBA clubhouse suffered in 1970, some readers have reminded me of the spectacular incident of flooding and ice that occurred in January 1996. There was an ice jam upriver, where the Hudson and Mohawk rivers converge. The Army Corps of Engineers used explosives to break up the ice jam, causing an enormous surge of floodwater and ice to come crashing downriver. These photos, taken by John Cody, show what happened to the HPBA clubhouse in that ice flood.

More of Cody's photographs of that memorable event can be found here.

The flood and destruction of January 1996 is recalled in the history of the Hudson Power Boat Association that appears on the club's website:  
January 1996 was the most damaging episode by far and the membership came very close to losing the clubhouse. A huge ice jam on the Mohawk River broke up and caused a five foot surge of flood water. Added to the very high tide, it caused a monumental ice flood down the river and right into the north side of the club. Ice floes broke through the wall and were stacked up inside floor to ceiling. Appliances and furniture were washed out of the club into the river and the fuel tank floated away as well, later to be rescued and returned by the coast guard.
Members responded and using equipment and blood, sweat, and tears saved the day. A huge oak beam was milled on the spot at member Nick Tipple's saw mill and put in place to support the roof and structure of the building. Members had to finance the rebuilding of the club and it was a major project featured in the local newspapers of the time. It is still remembered and talked about on the river and in the community. The club was led that fateful year by Dara Laraway, the organization's first woman commodore.
HPBA members are veterans at dealing with flooding. More recently, the building was flooded on Christmas Day 2020. Once again, the event was documented by John Cody.

The rest of Cody's photographs of the flooding at the waterfront on Christmas Day 2020 can be found here.


  1. Great photos, John Cody. Indeed it was the
    most amazing sight, something to see and hear! The boat club members are certainly worth their salt!